As kids, many of us saw our parents clipping coupons and taking advantage of sales to help save money. Even if your parents weren’t expressly focused on saving at the grocery store, their financial decisions would have helped your family thrive through the thick and thin.
Today, clipping coupons is not realistic. It’s time-consuming, and one could also argue that coupons are a waste of paper. In most cases, flyers and coupon books barely make it through the door before being thrown in the trash or recycle bin.
If ten years ago, we were obsessed with rewards cards like Air Miles, today, we see those rewards shift to the smartphone and mobile platform. Cashback and rewards apps are the new rewards cards, which were the new coupons. These apps are changing the way consumers shop and save.
Why you should be using cashback and reward apps
Rewards programs are not new, but technology is reinventing them. Today’s consumers are always looking for a great deal, but we’ve gone ahead and changed the way we secure those deals.
Cashback and rewards apps make saving money fun. By making it an interactive game with points, missions, steps, and rewards, you can enjoy yourself while reaping the benefits.
But how do you capitalize on the best cashback and rewards apps? What should you focus on, what’s worth your time and how do you weed out the best deals?
Here are the top reward and cashback apps:
1. Capital One Shopping
Capital One Shopping has been coming on strong as THE go-to savings app for saving money when making your online purchases. Installation and/or downloading the app is 100% free and Capital One Shopping has a variety of ways they can save/make you money:
- Shop normally and when someone else finds a lower price for an item, Capital One Shopping alerts all of their users to the same low price.
- When it’s time to check-out, Capital One Shopping will try to apply coupon codes to your order. When it works for one user, Capital One Shopping will try it for you too!
- Earn credits when you make purchases online with many of the brands you know (like Walmart, eBay etc.) and use them to buy gift cards.
Capital One Shopping is powered by Capital One and perhaps their coolest feature is a universal barcode scanner where after a scan, they’ll scour the internet for a cheaper buy.Disclaimer - Capital One Shopping compensates us when you get the browser extension using the links we provided.
Have you ever made a purchase, only for the item to go on sale the next week? Earny helps with that exactly. Simply add the extension to your Chrome browser and let Earny do the rest. The app monitors your purchases and alerts you when an item you’ve bought drops in price. It even checks your recent purchases for any price reductions that might make you eligible for a refund.
But one of Earny’s biggest benefits is its watchlist. When you see an item you want, put it on your watchlist and Earny will keep an eye on it. You can immediately see the price history of the item and gauge the likelihood that the price will drop in the future before buying. If you can wait, just leave the item in your watchlist and when the price drops, you’ll get an alert.
Earny is free, so there’s nothing to lose by adding it to your browser. You’ll start earning money on the shopping you do every week.
Dosh is an app that makes the process of earning money effortlessly because earning cash back is 100% automatic. Just link the cards you use to make most of your purchases in the app and start spending. Dosh provides cash back on your purchases at participating merchants, including big-name retailers like Walmart and ASOS.
Once you’ve downloaded the app, you’ll be able to see local retailers and restaurants that issue cash back to Dosh members. Any time you make a purchase at one of those retailers using your linked card, cash is automatically credited to your Dosh account.
Shopping and dining aren’t the only ways you can save with Dosh. The platform also offers cash back when you stay at participating hotels. There are over 60k locations across the world, so you can earn money while you travel.
Lastly, you can earn money by referring others to the platform. You’ll get a personal referral link to share and when they sign up, you earn a fixed dollar amount, specified in the app.
Cashing out with Dosh is easy. Once you have a balance of $25, you can move the money to your PayPal or Venmo account. If you’d prefer, you can also opt to donate some of the funds to charity.
4. Fetch Rewards
Grocery shopping is a necessary chore, and clipping coupons is a time-consuming process. With Fetch Rewards, you just scan your store receipts to earn cash back on the products you bought. You’ll save when you buy from Fetch’s partner brands, which include many of the most popular products on the market. You’ll save for buying Kraft, Lipton, Cottonelle, Knorr, and many other brands.
You won’t just save on grocery receipts with Fetch. You can scan receipts from big-box retailers, liquor stores, convenience stores, and even club stores like Sam’s Club. All the big grocers are included, so whether you shop at Publix, Target, Walmart, or Kroger, you’re covered.
Prefer to shop online? You can do that, too. You’ll need to link up the email account you use on those sites, then search for receipts that have been delivered to your inbox. This is also a great way to make sure your e-delivered receipts at brick-and-mortar stores are included.
MyPoints is a rewards app that offers up to 40% back at 2,000 of the most common retailers. These retailers include stores like Target, Walmart, Amazon, Old Navy, eBay, and Home Depot. And the list of retailers is huge (over 2000) – these are just a few of my favorites.
You’ll earn points every time you shop at these stores, and you can redeem those points at any time. You can redeem them for gift cards or a credit to your PayPal account.
You can sign-up for MyPoints for free, and they’re currently offering a $10 sign-up bonus!
Swagbucks is another app that wants to be a part of your life and the routine activities you would be doing online anyway. Watching online videos and taking short surveys will earn you gift cards. The polls will make you feel like you’re part of something bigger and the retailers are listening to your opinions. Bloggers and remote workers love this app, and it’s especially great for people who are home a lot of the time and want to earn extra rewards while going about their daily routine.
There are a lot of useful tips out there for using Swagbucks, and we recommend reading them before you start so that you can get the most out of this app. Bonus features and the ability to passively earn while playing Swagwatch and SBTV offer even more ways to reap the rewards. Signing up for the Swagbucks survey profile will help you receive more surveys that you qualify for, thus increasing your rewards potential and allowing you to have input with companies that fit your lifestyle and spending profile.
Whether you’re a walking enthusiast, spend a large part of your workday walking, or you just want to get fit, Bitwalking is the app for you. Advertising themselves as the “new global currency,” Bitwalking will get you moving and participating in the larger world around you.
Bitwalking is egalitarian and practical. You’re not paid to walk; you generate the money on your own. So that means the woman in Uganda who walks five miles to get water every day is at the same advantage as the casual walker in San Diego who meets her walking group each morning. Bitwalking provides the platform to convert it to a currency that can be spent in the Bitwalking store or through third-party partners.
You can also trade walking dollars with other users. Walking dollars can also be transferred to anyone, anywhere in the world. Imagine earning money just from walking? It really gives new meaning to your resolution to get fit in 2018. You can potentially watch your waistline get slimmer while your wallet gets fatter.
Belly’s goal was to replace multiple loyalty programs with a straightforward app. You’ll often notice the Belly logo around the cash registers of some of your favorite stores or restaurants. Since it’s a “universal loyalty program” many different establishments use it at once, and you can collect points on one simple app replacing the numerous rewards cards you might have taking up precious space in your wallet.
Belly also has a unique feature where it can show you nearby stores and restaurants that are Belly participants, which could, in effect, influence your shopping decisions.
Fronto is your companion app, like a best friend who’s there but never judges you or gives you bad advice. It’s interested in everything that you’re interested in. Whether you’re browsing news articles, looking for a new outfit or shopping online for the kids, Fronto allows you to unlock and redeem points that can be used for cash or gift cards from the retailers you’re already buying from. You can browse online and earn points while working or completing schoolwork. The app is non-intrusive.
With more than nine million downloads and more than $5 million in redeemed rewards, Fronto has longevity and success. It’s been around since 2012 when they launched the first world’s first lock screen media app. They get great press and reviews, and the concept is so simple. Making your smartphone smarter just by waking it up and swiping is as easy as it sounds. Your reward points can be used with Amazon, Gift Card, and PayPal.
If you’re the type of person who is always sharing on social media, Cosign is the app for you. Specifically targeted to the clothing, tech, beauty, and food industries, Cosign lets you tag your favorite brands in your pictures and then receive money when your friends buy the same products.
In a world where influencers seem to be driving marketing trends, this app enables you to become your own influencer while making money off social media posts that you would probably be posting regardless. It essentially turns your social media feed into a ready-to-buy stream of recommendations that your friends can trust. As people purchase your products, you collect cash rewards; once you hit $40, you can cash out and transfer the money right into your bank account.
iBotta consistently scores well with savvy savers. It’s user-friendly and available for both iOS and Android. Just download the app and unlock the rebates. A series of tasks bring the idea of gamification to an otherwise tedious task, making saving money even more fun. Users see each job as a challenge that needs to be completed, and you can also get the whole family in on it.
Once you’re ready to go shopping, buy the products you’ve unlocked at any of the stores that are listed on the app. Next, you will need to verify your purchases by scanning the barcodes and submitting a photo of the receipt. You’re ready to cash in, and the money will appear in your iBotta account within 48 hours.
This app continues to evolve in its ease of use, which means the developers are responsive to reviews and actively seeking the best possible consumer experience. Many retailers allow you to process receipts in real-time, which means money in your pocket faster. Some of the benefits of iBotta include no more cutting and carrying coupons; you have one accessible portable device to start saving and earning money. According to iBotta, the average user is making about $30 a month. That’s $30 that you can keep or spend on something else.
Shopkick allows you to earn points in-store and online. Shopping in your regular stores, scanning the items and making a purchase will earn you reward points. Submitting your receipts is easy. They call their reward points “kicks,” and they can undoubtedly kickstart savings for you as you collect and redeem points for gift certificates at your favorite stores like Starbucks, Sephora, and Toys R Us.
As its popularity continues to grow, more companies will partner with Shopkick to provide, even more, options for redeemable features. At the moment, AMC, Marshalls, and more are just a few of the other brands you can secure deals with.
Check out apps from specific stores, too
In addition to the third-party apps available with no formal affiliation to specific retailers, more stores are getting savvy when it comes to attracting customers who want to save. Target and Walmart are just a few stores that have taken their coupon clipping online in the form of apps. In many cases, the deals you find on the store’s unique apps can also be combined with sales from other apps, which will help you double or triple the savings in some cases.
Whether you’re saving for a specific goal or hoping to merely reduce expenses or get rewarded for the money you are already going to be spending, cashback and rewards apps today have a plethora of features that will make saving fun.
Although the saying goes, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch,” we’re continuously learning that, in fact, technology can help us get that free lunch or movie ticket or gift card, after all.